A Letter To My Journal

 

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Dear Journal,

It’s been awhile since our last visit. A lot has happened since then. I’ve purchased some new goodies to record my thoughts in, but I just didn’t feel right leaving you behind.

I purchased you last year with the sole intent of starting a new chapter in my writing life. At first it was going great. You were the new shiny toy that got all my attention. Then I kicked you to the curb as soon as other better-looking toys came along.

I’d still give you the occasional glance as you collected dust on my shelf. I’d even pack you in my bag as I headed out to work thinking that I’d have time to devote to you on my lunch breaks. But I should’ve known better.

Here I am giving you another try. I know I haven’t been the most faithful, but I’m determined to do right by you. Too many of your blank pages need my words splattered across them.

I’ll do my best to not let you down again.

Sincerely,

Jeuron

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Start Writing Now

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If I could offer one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, it would be to start writing now.

You can read every style manual, how-to-article, and book on the craft, but it won’t replace the physical task of putting pen to paper.  Whether your aim is to create a popular blog or write a bestselling novel, you must sit down and start somewhere.

Before starting, you must first come to grips with the reality that you’ll never be a perfect writer. There will always be that extra sentence you wish you would’ve included after seeing your work in print. More than any other endeavor, writing is a never-ending quest for satisfaction. Writing becomes a lot more enjoyable after accepting this truth.

The most effective writing you can do is the kind without restraint. Just grab a journal and start writing about whatever topic excites you. Don’t worry about grammatical errors. Forget about whether your words flow smoothly. Just get something down on paper. You can revise later.

Many aspiring writers cripple themselves by holding their work to an unattainable standard of perfection. Writing is difficult enough without the added pressure.

Just have fun.

Don’t Be Afraid To Create

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We truly live in a “do-it-yourself” culture.

A long time ago, aspiring musicians shopped their demos around to record executives in order to secure a deal. Writers submitted their manuscripts to numerous publishers in the hopes of being accepted.

The rules have changed.

Musicians can now get the attention of major labels through the content they upload onto their personal You Tube channels. Writers can cultivate an audience through blogging or self publish their works.

Technology has changed the entire dynamic on how anyone can get their message across. It’s easier than ever before to cultivate an audience for your niche. No topic is too obscure.

If you’re passionate about something then don’t be afraid to create the content you want the world to see. It may take a while for others to catch on, but don’t be discouraged. Just remain persistent and others will soon follow.

 

Why I Enjoy Writing in the Morning

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There is something magical about writing early in the morning. It’s the time of day when my mind is the least cluttered. All I need is a warm cup of coffee and my journal book and I’m good.

I can’t promise that what I write during this time will even make sense. My number one priority is to get something down on paper. Grammar and sentence structure are the least of my concerns.

I encourage you to try this if you’re a new writer looking to establish a daily routine. Even if just writing for five minutes, you will be amazed at how easily your thoughts flow in the morning hours.

Reading Is Key to Becoming a Better Writer

Today I’d like to write about a topic that’s dear to my heart: reading.

In a perfect world, I’d spend every evening curled up with a good book. The reality is that I rarely have enough time to read for leisure.

Well that changed on yesterday.

While riding out of town with my wife I was finally able to catch up on Great American Short Stories: From Hawthorne to Hemingway, an anthology of works from some of the most distinguished writers in the American short story tradition. I purchased this book several weeks ago, but had done little with it. It was refreshing to flip through its pages while taking in the cool breeze from the window I had rolled down.

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I’ve always been fascinated with reading. I’m the type of person who finds it impossible to leave out of a bookstore without something in my hands. Even in college, I was more comfortable staying in the dorm reading than going out to party with friends.

My goal is to incorporate more reading into my daily schedule. This doesn’t mean reading the newspaper or information relating to my job. I’m talking about reading for the fun of it.

Not only is reading exciting, but it’s a necessity for becoming a good writer. When I come across a particularly strong phrase in a book or article, I’ll draw a circle around it so that I can refer to it later. These passages serve as motivation for the level of writing I’d like to attain someday.

If you wish to become a better writer, it’s best to pick up a good book.

Write For an Audience of One

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In some form or fashion, each of the books pictured above have assisted me on my writing journey. However, as good as they are, none of them can adequately prepare me for task of putting pen to paper.

The sheer volume of style manuals and how-to-books on the market can be daunting, especially for new writers. Sometimes it’s best to attack the blank page with little to no regard for public consumption.

Instead of conforming your writing to another’s standards make your readers conform to yours.

It’s All in the Details

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This is the kind of Saturday I enjoy. The weather is nice and I don’t have too many items on the agenda. I can lounge around and still get some writing done.

When thinking of what to write today my mind wandered back to two incidents from work.

The most recent occurred yesterday when a lady came by my office to drop off some paperwork. The first thing I noticed is that she had on a dress identical to another coworker. It was a black t-shirt style dress with white horizontal stripes. It looked as if she literally picked the outfit out of the other woman’s closet. I was so taken aback that I found myself staring at her dress for most of our conversation. I later brought up my observation which she found quite funny.

Earlier this week I had another female coworker stop by. This one has a peculiar habit of dancing to pass the time. She broke out in a ballerina-style dance as she waited on me to finish a call. It’s honestly the strangest, and cutest, thing I’ve seen at my job. We both busted out in laughter when I noticed what she was doing.

(Author’s Note: One of the most important things I’ve learned about working with women is that it’s always good to keep them laughing.)

I thought to myself how is it that I always pay such an inordinate amount of attention to these kind of things. More so at my job than any other place, I notice nearly every detail of my coworkers’ articles of clothing, past conversations, and unique individual quirks. Even more interesting is that I work mostly around women. It seems like there is something new to learn about them on a daily basis.

I blame it on the writer in me. As a writer, I feel that it’s my duty to observe every detail about those around me. I catch things about other’s behavior that they may not even realize about themselves. It’s kind of cool.

Consequently, I like for my writing to be packed with as much detail as possible.

I’m ready to see what notes my mental rolodex will record as I go about today’s activities.

Consistency is Key

One of my biggest challenges as a blogger is my lack of consistency. It’s what comes to mind whenever I think of why my blog isn’t as successful as it should be. There are periods when I feel like a writing machine and periods when I rarely write at all.

Let’s look at the following table which shows the number of posts I published per year, along with the corresponding amount of views, since I started this blog in 2011.

Year Posts Published Views
2011 41 497
2012 76 19,199
2013 43 13,800
2014 31 14,268
2015 28 9,816
2016 46 7,882

We can see that 2012 was the high watermark with 2013 and 2014 following next in line. 2015 is interesting since it had the lowest number of posts, yet the number of views was still up from what I reached in 2016. 2014 had the second least amount of posts, but the second highest number of views. 2011 is noteworthy because I started this blog in September of that year. I was writing like a man possessed, although the quality of my work wasn’t close to what it is today.

Just imagine if I had maintained the same level of productivity I displayed in 2012. It’s very possible that I would have come close to hitting 100,000 views by now.

I try not to get too caught up in the numbers because the real measure of my blog’s success is how I feel about everything I write and the feedback I receive from my readers. On the other hand, it’s nice to keep track of my measurable progress.

One of the most amazing periods of growth in my blog, and in my writing life, occurred during the summer 2015 when I posted daily from June 28-July 7. To this day it remains the longest stretch of uninterrupted blogging I’ve ever done. Not only did I develop into an all-around better writer, but I gained many new followers during this period. After all this success, guess what I did?

I went cold turkey and didn’t write again until exactly one month later. Why would I stop after going on such a roll?

I stopped because I had a hard time feeling like I could live up to the pressure I imposed on myself.  I thought that I couldn’t write something that lived up to my readers’ expectations of what they had come to expect from me.

2016 was my worst year of blogging. Not only did I go months without posting anything, but the lag in writing made it that much more difficult for me to produce quality content when I was ready to resume. There were days when I felt like a zombie heading to the keyboard.

Just like laziness, a lack of consistency is a surefire way to halt your goals. We all have what may appear to be valid reasons for not maintaining consistency in certain areas we’re looking to grow in.

In some ways, giving up on your goals after you start gaining traction is worse than not pursuing them at all. You’ve already proven you have what it takes, so why stop?

Just keep going.

Don’t Let Laziness Stop You in 2017

2017 is here and I’m officially making a dent into the new year by writing this very post. What’s so special about this, you might ask.

The answer is that I woke up at 5:03 am to write it.

This may not sound like anything unusual, but I consider it be a breakthrough in my growth as a writer.

I tend to wake up a good two hours early on some mornings. When this happens I normally go straight to my phone to browse social media before forcing myself back to sleep until the alarm rings. Instead of rolling back under the covers I decided to get up and write.

I looked laziness right in the face and didn’t allow it deprive me of my valuable writing time.

Don’t let laziness hold you back from reaching your true potential in whatever goals you decide to pursue this year.

Why Brevity Is a Writer’s Friend

One of the biggest changes to occur in my writing this year was my switch from writing exceedingly lengthy posts to considerably shorter ones.

During my first couple of years of blogging I felt a need to consistently write upwards of 500 words per post. I felt like I was doing the world a favor by writing such lengthy prose.

Well, I was wrong.

My purpose for writing in this manner was to impress others rather than myself.

I equate this scenario to watching wrestling. I’ve witnessed matches that were technically excellent, but seemed to lose something because they went too long. I’ve seen plenty of good matches go 30 minutes that would’ve been great had they gone half that length.

Brevity isn’t simply about writing shorter. It’s more about cutting out the superfluous details that bog down a story.

Remember that the key to writing a good story of any length is to know when to stop and trust that you’ve said everything that matters.